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Atlanta: 6 Things To Remember Before Season 3 Begins

Donald Glover, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, and Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta Season 3
(Image credit: FX)

Donald Glover’s hit TV series, Atlanta, is set to return to FX on March 24, 2022. It’s one of the most anticipated returning TV shows, and its been a while since viewers have followed Earn (Donald Glover), Al “Paper Boi” (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), and Vanessa (Zazie Beetz) through their many misadventures, but the gang will soon return for Atlanta Season 3. 

Fans can expect the same complicated characters facing their on-going problems, but in new situations. The Atlanta Season 2 finale helped lay the groundwork for the upcoming season. We know some important things about Atlanta Season 3,  but much of the season remains a mystery, which makes the wait for it even more exciting. Because Season 2 concluded in May 2018, it’ll be almost four years between the Season 2 ending and the Season 3 premiere, and there may be a few things you’ve forgotten about Atlanta’s first two seasons, so here’s a quick recap of some of the important events.

Warning: Spoilers About Atlanta Seasons 1 and 2 ahead. Proceed with caution.

Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover in Atlanta Season 3

(Image credit: FX)

Paper Boi, Darius, And Earn Are On A European Tour

The final episode of Atlanta Season 2, “Crabs in a Barrel,” follows Earn as he tries to make sure that everything is settled for Paper Boi, Darius, and himself to make it to Europe for their tour with Clark County (RJ Walker). Earn faces many obstacles along the way, including Darius’s expired passport and movers who don’t seem to want to work. Earn’s on-going stress adds up to him making the decision to place a forgotten gun in Clark’s security bin at the airport.

Despite Atlanta Season 3 premiering four years after season 2’s premiere, we don’t expect a time jump. This likely means that either some or all of the events take place during this European tour. We could see each character going through more of a personal transformation in Europe, and some fish out of water situations, like we saw with Earn in Atlanta Season 2, Episode 4, “Helen.”

RJ Walker as Clark County on Atlanta Season 2

(Image credit: FX)

Clark County Is On Tour With Paper Boi

The end of “Crabs in a Barrel” revealed that Clark County had his manager, Lucas (Matthew Barnes), take the fall for him. This allowed Clark to continue with the tour. Clark County has been seen throughout Atlanta as someone not to upset. On the outside, he seems like this nice, friendly guy, but we’ve seen ruthless, almost psychotic behavior from him. One of the many haunting moments of Atlanta Season 2 is towards the end of “Money Bag Shawty.” The episode ends with it being heavily implied that some of Clark’s people beat the audio engineer for having technical difficulties.

Because we know Clark’s hidden dark side, we can only imagine what may happen to Earn and his friends if Clark learns that he tried to plant the gun on him. Even if that somehow manages to stay hidden, just being with Clark that long could easily lead to some scary situations. Earn and his friends and the audience have no clue how dark and devious Clark could go if something sets him off. Atlanta expertly balances dark subject matters with brilliant comedy, so we know this will provide plenty of funny and horrifying content. I personally can’t wait to see Clark go full villain in Atlanta Season 3. 

Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover in Atlanta Season 2

(Image credit: FX)

Earn Was Almost Fired By Paper Boi As His Manager

Throughout “Crabs in a Barrel,” Earn has a sense of doom about him. He knows one mistake could cost him everything, especially with stakes so high. In Atlanta Season 2, Episode 9, “North of the Border,” Al informs Earn that he’s been considering replacing him as his manager. He’s only kept him because they’re family.

All throughout that season, we saw Paper Boi grow increasingly annoyed with the things Earn has accomplished and failed to accomplish as his manager. Therefore, it made complete sense that Al finally decided to get management that could better suit his needs. This is also why Earn ultimately made the decision to try to frame Clark. He didn’t want another screw up and wanted to protect himself and his cousin at that moment. Also, Clark being gone would make Paper Boi the headliner on the tour.

Al seemed to respect the move and now wants to keep Earn as his manager, but I’m not sure the tension won’t still exist about Al possibly firing Earn if he messes up again. It’ll be interesting to see if Earn continues to prove himself to Al and finally starts to thrive as a manager. 

Zazie Beetz in Atlanta Season 2

(Image credit: FX)

Vanessa Is Still Unemployed

Vanessa had so many mishaps in Atlanta Season 1, Episode 6, “Value,” that it became all the more crushing when she lost her job for admitting to a superior that she smoked weed. After that episode, we see Vanessa try to get some opportunities to better her situation, but they all seem to fail. In Atlanta Season 2, Episode 4, “Helen,” Van expresses some frustration at not having a job and just being seen as Lottie's (Mia Atehortua) mom. 

Earn and Vanessa also got good news and bad news in “Crabs in a Barrel,” when they learned that Lottie is a gifted child, but needs to go to private school to really thrive. Private school is a nearly impossible dream with Earn’s current unstable income and Van not working. We may see this change in Atlanta Season 3. Vanessa may finally find a job that’s fulfilling, or maybe she has a new job but the viewers just haven’t learned about it yet and will in the new episodes. 

Zazie Beetz and Donald Glover in Atlanta Season 3

(Image credit: FX)

Earn And Vanessa Are No Longer Hooking Up

The episode “Helen” concluded with Vanessa telling Earn that she wanted a relationship, and him saying that he was fine with their current situation. This led to a ping-pong match that took their ambiguous romantic relationship to nonexistent and then just co-parent status. They may grow even more distant if Van decides to move back in with her mother, which she mentioned in “Crabs in a Barrel.” 

Whether Earn and Vanessa will reconcile is one of the biggest questions we have about Atlanta Season 3. Atlanta hasn’t really established any romantic pairs beyond Vanessa and Earn, so they’ll likely get back together in some capacity before the series ends. We just aren’t sure if it’ll happen next season. 

Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta Season 2

(Image credit: FX)

Paper Boi Almost Died In Atlanta Season 2

In one of the best episodes of Atlanta so far, “Woods,” Al finds himself in one dangerous situation after another, resulting in one of Brian Tyree Henry’s best performances. Al nearly dies several times in the span of 24-hours.  We see some effects of the incident during the following episode, but true to Al’s form, he kind of brushes it off in front of his friends. One of Al’s biggest traits is that he swallows a lot of emotional baggage. You can see him growing frustrated with Earn, fans, the cost of fame, the shooting, and the state of what it takes to be famous, but overall, he tries to bury his frustration and keep moving. When he has a knife to his throat, he seems to take what the man in the woods says to heart about not wasting his time and life. 

Dealing with so much heaviness, especially after being so close to death and his own grief about his mother’s death, has got to eventually boil over. We may finally see an even bigger emotional break in Al before Atlanta Season 3 ends. We also may see more small ways in which Paper Boi takes charge of his life, to not waste his time. 

Atlanta Season 3 premieres on March 24, 2022, and then on Hulu the following day. Then, Atlanta Season 4 airs sometime in fall 2022. Atlanta Season 4 is the final season, and it was filmed back-to-back with the third season, so I expect the two to work together to paint the final picture of the series overall. You can stream the first two seasons (opens in new tab) of Atlanta on Hulu, and if you need some similar shows to Atlanta to watch, we have plenty of suggestions to help you wait for Atlanta Season 3. 

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.